Having ended a franchise record-tying home winning streak in Calgary their last time out, the Anaheim Ducks look to make it a two-fer trip to Alberta facing the Edmonton Oilers. With the win in their most recent game the Ducks leapt over Edmonton in the standings with three games in hand, and a two point result tonight could pull the Fowl level with the Flames while having a game in hand, pending the result of the other Albertan side's concurrent game against Los Angeles. All told, Anaheim may find themselves as little as one point or as much as five points out of the final Pacific Division playoff spot when the calendar turns to 2016.
Ducks: Tuesday, December 29 at Calgary (1-0 W) "Anaheim Wins Ugly To Snap Flames Home Win Streak"
Oilers: Tuesday, December 29 vs Los Angeles (2-5 L) "One Minute And 36 Seconds"
There was no Cam Fowler for the Ducks in Calgary, missing his first game since suffering a sprained knee during Anaheim's 4-2 win over Philadelphia at Honda Center on Sunday, but the defense didn't miss a beat in completely stifling the Flames. The Ducks held the hosts to just 14 shots on goal, tied for the fourth fewest allowed in a regular season game in franchise history. January 23, 2004 Anaheim set their franchise record by holding Minnesota to 11 shots in a 6-2 win at the then Arrowhead Pond.
It was also the NHL debut of 2013 26th overall selection Shea Theodore, as the 20-year old defenseman from Langley, BC played 15:45 including 1:24 of power play time. Primarily skating alongside Clayton Stoner, Theodore attempted a pair of shots and finished with a +6 shot attempt differential for the game, and +5 at even strength. He was sheltered by the coaching staff, getting six offensive zone starts and never beginning a shift off a defensive zone faceoff. Still, the rookie showed well in his debut, flashing signs of the passing proclivity that has helped him chalk up 12 assists in 27 games with the San Diego Gulls. Theodore was tied for 16th in AHL defenseman scoring with 16 points, where only three other first year defenders (including fellow Gull Brandon Montour) have put up more points than him.
After reeling off six straight wins to begin the month of December, Edmonton has come back to earth with a 1-5-1 mark in their last seven games. Perhaps not coincidentally for the young team, of the winning streak five of the six games were at home, while five of the past seven have been on the road. Once again the issue for the Oilers has been defense, as the team has allowed the fourth-worst average goals against in the league. Neither Anders Nilsson or Cam Talbot have proved to be transcendent players between the pipes. That has not been helped by a bottom third offense that has surely been missing first overall selection Connor McDavid, who remains out with injury.
Still, the Oilers sport a pair of players with better than point-per-game production in leading goal scorer Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl in particular has been a revelation since making his NHL debut and scoring a pair of goals, including the game winner, against Montreal on October 29. The previous meeting against the Ducks, a 4-3 overtime win for Edmonton at Honda Center, saw Draisaitl score a goal and dish a pair of assists. Both he and Hall tend to score on bunches, as of the 22 games where Hall has contributed offensively 11 were multi-point outings, while for Draisaitl's 17 games with points nine were of the multi-variety. Teddy Purcell is tied with Draisaitl for second on the team in goals with nine, and Edmonton has five players with eight or more twine-denters this season- Anaheim has one (Corey Perry with 13).
Two hours before face off we'll have the game thread up, featuring the full Stat Pack, likely with expected lines, and of course your Numbers For Nerds.